I took Lexie to the vet yesterday morning for a check-up. She will be 11 years old in a few days and it is difficult to believe that we rescued our Doberman when she was less than 6 months old. We have gone to the same vet since we moved here back in the fall of 1982 and so we have been through quite a bit together over the years. After Lexie was pronounced healthy and in great shape, Dave, our vet, suggested that we get a playmate for Lexie. He went on to tell me that older dogs do well with younger dogs in the house, causing them to be more playful and active than they may otherwise be. In other words, it’s a great way to older dogs to live out their lives with a younger companion.
I guess I instinctively knew this, but Dave brought it front and center for discussion. As I was contemplating what he was suggesting, I happened to look down at the leash in my hand that would soon lead Lexie back to the car. It was full of scratches and small cuts in the leather and yet, was in pretty good condition. I ended up telling Dave the story of how we got the leash in the first place.
When Janet and I were first married, after our honeymoon, we came back to Chicago and adopted two Border Collies, Bobby (named after my best friend, Bob Thompson), and Sassy. We bought collars for each of them, and a leash to take them for walks – the same leash that was in my hand yesterday. Sassy ended up with distemper and died with a week, but Bobby ended up living with us for a number of years until he finally passed after a rather full life. I remember these events like it was yesterday. And then there was Nicholas, our Afghan hound – and after him, a succession of other rescues throughout the years.
Among others, we had Ellie and Abbie, two beautiful Collies, then Beau, our Bichon rescue, Sadie, our red Doberman rescue and now Lexie, another black and tan Doberman rescue. And it looks like we could be getting ready to consider another addition to the family. Now I am just listing all the dogs here, but understand that for many of these years, we also had a number of cats. Nibbles, Ernie, KC and CB were all welcome feline rescue additions to our family throughout the years.
In fact, for quite a while, I sat on the Board and donated time as the VP of Fundraising for the local Humane Society, so I came to understand the plight of neglected and unwanted animals as well as the costs associated with caring for these outcasts from society. Janet and I have always leaned toward being a part of the solution when it came to helping animals and so we hope that we have provided a loving, compassionate environment for animals who otherwise may have been put down or forced to live substandard lives.
And all our dogs have used the same leash that we bought for Bobby and Sassy almost 44 years ago. Sure, everybody has always had their own collars and toys, but the leash has been something of a common thread that has gone on uninterrupted since 1973. And now, unless something happens to it, I really doubt that we will ever buy another. Yes, it is filled with dings and imperfections, but it is still solid and who would have thought that it would have survived all the things it has been through since its purchase. We sure got our money’s worth! And I’ve never even seen a leash that I liked as much. It’s got history – and memories – and in an odd sort of way, it links the lives of all the dogs that have been in the Toussaint home for more than 4 decades.
Come to think of it, I’m not so different from that leash. Full of blemishes and scars that each represent some event over the years that has left a mark. And my bet is that each of you has similar scars, physical or otherwise, that mark the steps of your journey as well.
And you know what? God knew about your journey before you ever did. Tonight’s verse is from the Psalms – one of the most famous psalms we have. We are told, in Psalm 139:15-16, “My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
And while we may think we have time left – only God knows the number of days or cares enough to know the number of hairs on our head. My encouragement this evening is that you have had a unique journey in all of time and creation. That means that God had something special for you to accomplish and my prayer is that you have been fortunate enough to discover whatever it was that God designed you to do! And like our old leash, you may be battered and worn, but God has always cared more about function than form. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…